4 Tools for Small Business Management in 2014

Operating a business without automating some of the processes can mean missing out on the Holy Grail. Automation itself doesn’t only lead to increase in productivity, but the process also frees up human resources and grants them time to focus on other business-related tasks.

According to Forrester Research, 25% of marketers adopting mature lead generation and management processes say that their sales people are able to reach out to prospects within 24 hours, and only 10% of marketers say they experienced the same follow-up time without mature lead generation and management processes.

And a survey conducted among small to medium sized businesses reveals that 48% of the respondents termed computer repair wait and 67% percent termed tech-related issues as barriers to their business productivity. These are only some of the stats and figures that show the importance of automating business management processes.

The good news for businesses of today is that web based applications and tools offer an ideal solution for automating and simplifying business management processes as well as freeing up resources. There are tools to manage contracts, contacts, social media profiles and a lot more; most of the tools are available at a small cost compared to conventional software offerings.

In 2014, businesses can utilize the following tools for this purpose:

1. Social media management tools

Not all businesses have the budget to hire separate personnel for handling each of their social media profiles, and this is where social media management tools are a blessing in disguise. According to e-Strategy Trends, 92% small businesses consider social media as an effective marketing technology for engaging existing customers and attracting new ones.

Two of the best offerings for businesses are HootSuite and SproutSocial. Both of them enable businesses to schedule updates on different sites, track metrics from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, monitor the conversations and enable notifications whenever the business name or its products and services are mentioned.

2. Contract management tools

Implementing contract management tools can lead businesses to recognize revenue building opportunities more quickly, structure profitable negotiations and avoid legal sanctions or penalties by implementing company-wide operational compliance.

Contract Logix also says that industry leading contract management software can significantly decrease the administration time input. Additionally, such tools can be customized by both enterprises as well as small businesses as they lay a foundation for future growth.

3. Finance management tools

Tracking of business expenses is essential to find out where the company is headed in terms of revenues and profits. The entrepreneur, a well-established resource on small business news and advice, reported a decade ago that 80% of small businesses use some sort of financing to grow the business, and the trend is alive even today in the form of venture capital and other types of funding.

Web-based finance apps such as Freshbooks and Quickbooks help businesses to keep finances in check by tracking expenses, invoices, time estimates and contacts. The software can also be customized and collaborated on between the vendors/customers and the business. Moreover, such software also integrates with smartphone finance apps, making finance management easier.

4. Contact management tools

Traditional contact management offerings were not account-centric, so they didn’t give detailed insight on customers and prospects. Modern tools, however, take into account as many details as possible, including interests, location, phone, email, profile picture, business and social media profiles of business contacts.

A study in Harvard Business Review reveals that 50% companies lose customers each 5 years, and 2/3rds of survey participants blame or associate poor customer service for the loss. Companies can therefore improve customer server as well as contact management processes with Zoho ContactManager and other similar tools. Not only do they allow tracking of contacts and other CRM functions, but they are also accessible from multiple devices courtesy of the cloud.